12 February 2013

Uganda: Katatumba, Shumuk Property Row Rages On

The five-year row between Bonney Katatumba, the Pakistan Consul to Uganda and Indian mogul, Mukesh Shukla is not about to end.

Katatumba and Mukesh are bickering over three prime city properties, each claiming to be the rightful owner.

The properties are Hotel Diplomate in Muyenga, Katatumba Suites now Shumuk Building on Coleville Street and Katatumba Resort Island Banda on Kalangala Island.

But the biggest cause of trouble between the two businessmen is Hotel Diplomate. Katatumba, the original owner of the hotel, values it at $1.5m. He says Mukesh, a signatory of Shumuk Group, a company dealing in a chain of businesess wants to grab it.

Katatumba also links a recent attempt on his life by one Capt. Hassan Wandera to his troubles over the property.

On January 12, 2012, Wandera allegedly attempted to stab Katatumba with a knife. Wandera was arrested at the Pakistan Consulate as he wrestled with security personnel, allegedly in a bid to reach his target.

The State preferred attempted murder charges against Wandera and the case is currently before Makindye Chief Magistrates Court.

Mukesh was also recently included on the charge sheet and he appeared in Court.

But he strongly protests the charges, saying Katatumba uses the Police and the DPP's office to frame and harass him.

He further accuses Katatumba of stage-managing the attempt on his life. "To prove that the murder attempt on his life was stage-managed, journalists were called to the scene before Wandera reached the venue," Mukesh said.

Mukesh adds that Katatumba's murder accusations are intended to divert him from claiming the unpaid bills standing at sh900m as per Sept 2011.

Katatumba says he learnt of the planned attack from one Jacob who worked with Shumuk Group of Companies.

He said Jacob rang him the day before the incident and tipped him of the attack after Wandera was allegedly paid sh7m of the sh10m he had asked for to execute the mission.

But Mukesh says Wandera had gone to the Consulate to collect dues from the managers of Springs International Hotel which had taken over Hotel Diplomate.

According to Mukesh, Wandera was a State House employee whom he out-sourced to help him run his businesses.

Mukesh says Katatumba is just a 'dishonest' person who wants to repossess the properties he legally sold him.

Mukesh said after buying the hotel, Katatumba turned against him and violently evicted the managers of Springs International Hotel which Shumuk had hired to run the facility.

"One wonders what intention Katatumba had to declare a normal sales transaction done in the presence of lawyers and a Bank as witness to be foul," he said.

After the eviction in 2009, Mukesh opened up a case with Police accusing Katatumba of trespass and theft.

Mukesh is bitter that he has failed to occupy the hotel he bought on Novovember 12, 2008. He complains that Katatumba's refusal to vacate the hotel has caused his company a loss of sh3b.

He also accuses Katatumba of conniving with a city lawyer to draft an illegal recovery agreement which they used to evict him from Springs International Hotel.

"Katatumba's actions are ruining the economic gains of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government and discouraging investors from coming to Uganda," he said.

Springs Intentional Hotel Limited reportedly bought Hotel Diplomate at $630,000. (About sh1.6b)

Mukesh says he has sought the help of Police and the DPP to arrest and charge Katatumba for trespass and theft but has not been helped.

He showed Saturday Vision copies of the sales agreement he reportedly signed with Katatumba. The agreement has two consent agreements from Katatumba's wives, Gertrude and Grace.

The wives, in the agreement, give consent to Katatumba to sell off the Hotel and append their signatures.

But Katatumba says he gave the land tittles of Hotel Diplomate to Mukesh as his business partner to act as a guarantee for a loan.

He said on receiving the title, Mukesh forged a sales agreement, scanned old signatures and superimposed them on it before claiming that he bought the hotel.

Katatumba also accuses Mukesh of forging his wives' signatures.

Joseph Olanya, a Government handwriting expert made a report on March 21, 2011 showing there were significant differences in Gertrude's original signature and the one on the sales agreement.

"In my opinion, although the questioned document is a photocopy, it is highly improbable that the questioned signature was executed by Mrs. Gertrude," Olanya observed.

Mukesh denies forging any signatures, saying the agreements were signed in the presence of Katatumba's agents and his bank.

But Katatumba says after discovering that Mukesh had forged the sales agreement, his family asked the Ministry of Lands to place a caveat on the facility but was frustrated.

"Instead when Mukesh learnt about this move he used a commissioner in the Ministry of Lands to block the caveat and within one day, he had secured a new land tittle," he said.

"Hadn't this family been connected, Mukesh would have grabbed our properties."

As for the hotel, Mukesh says even if it takes him 100 years to prove that he bought it, he will wait until he recovers it.

Mukesh says Katatumba does not want to hand over the hotel to him because he signed a recovery agreement with Lex Advocates, which requires him to pay 25% of the values of the hotel unconditionally if he recovers it.

On the other hand, Katatumba says Mukesh is a dreamer and vows not to surrender the hotel.

How they met

Mukesh says Katatumba was introduced to him by, Arvind Patel, in August 2008 when the Consul was facing a serious financial crisis.

Katatumba reportedly had a chain of creditors who wanted him locked up for failing to clear them.

The creditors reportedly included Crane Bank, which was supposed to receive $2,450,000, Virani was to get $750,000, Harish $200,000, Tecton $200,000, Peter Lule $400,000, Centenary Bank $100,000, Arvind Patel $500,000, Ben Kavuya $200,000 and city lawyer Charles Odere $200,000 - which amounts to $5m (about sh14b).

Mukesh said Patel pleaded with him to help Katatumba.

"When I learnt he (Katatumba) was a Consul, I agreed to help him. I thought he was a genuine and honest person," he said.

When Katatumbaasked Mukesh for money, he offered Katatumba Suits at $5m to him if he agreed to sort out his creditors. That marked the beginning of the endless wrangles.

Mukesh says Katatumba didn't fulfil his side of the deal while the former also accuses the latter of doing the same. It is not clear who is trying to dupe who.

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